No marriage is perfect, and partners will do things that hurt the relationship. These negative interactions are normal, and can even be a part of a healthy marriage. Why? Dr. John Gottman has found that having more positive interactions balances out the negative interactions. They call this ratio Positive Sentiment. Happy couples have 20 positive interactions for every negative interaction in day-to-day interactions. Even when they're fighting, that ratio is 5:1. So if you find yourself in a negative pattern, try your best to add some positive things to the mix:
Crack a joke
Say something like "I'm trying to understand"
Or "I still love you even though we're fighting"
Touch your partner
Turn toward your partner
Look at your partner during conflict
Now, please take this advice a general rule. If you start keeping track of how many times your partner does something positive or negative, then you're going to be the one dragging the marriage down! Remember that unbiased researchers were the ones coding the Positive Sentiment ratio. It's not your job! It would be impossible for you to accurately keep track of all the positive and negative things you and your partner do. Use this piece of research as a test for your own happiness in your marriage and as a way to increase satisfaction from your end.
This is only one small piece of advice from Dr. Gottman's research, but you can get so much more from any of Dr. Gottman's books, including The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work and Why Marriages Succeed or Fail. I've read both of these books, and both are excellent if you are interested in improving your marriage. They have quizzes and advice that really helps. Remember, though, that sometimes marriages need more than just a book. If your marriage is really struggling, getting hands-on help from a therapist is important.